GUERLAIN’S PERFUMER DUO: THIERRY WASSER AND DELPHINE JELK
This spring, Guerlain releases L’Homme Idéal Sport, the brand’s fourth fragrance officially attributed to both Thierry Wasser and Delphine Jelk.
Delphine Jelk’s first perfume for Guerlain was La Petite Robe Noire in 2009. When exactly she was employed as a full-time perfumer for the house remains undisclosed, so we don’t know how many Guerlain fragrances actually bear her signature.
Thierry Wasser was named Guerlain's solo perfumer in 2008, but as he has said that he spends around thirty percent of his working hours on traveling to source raw materials, we understand why he’s unable to fulfil the task of composing Guerlain’s ten new fragrances per year by himself.
Historically, it has been a tradition at Guerlain to appoint a single master perfumer. This rule was broken in the 1990s when Sylvaine Delacourte entered as the brand’s fragrance evaluator and Jean-Paul Guerlain’s role was reduced to being part of a creative team. In 1994, when Guerlain was handed over to LVMH, for the first time an external perfumer was announced as the author of a Guerlain fragrance, namely Olivia Giacobetti for Petit Guerlain. Later came Olivier Cresp (Champs-Elysées) and Mathilde Laurent (Voile d’Été, Guet-Apens, Pamplelune, Shalimar Light), and after Jean-Paul Guerlain’s retirement in 2002, almost all of Guerlain’s fragrances were ascribed to independent perfumers: Maurice Roucel (L'Instant de Guerlain, Insolence), Béatrice Piquet (L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme), Randa Hammami (L’Instant Magic, Oud Sensuel, Garden Sensuel, Mon Précieux Nectar, Moscow), Francis Kurkdjian (Rose Barbare), Sophie Labbé (Cologne du 68, Parfum du 68), Olivier Polge (Cuir Beluga), Daniela Andrier (Angélique Noire), Annick Ménardo (Bois d’Arménie, Tokyo), Christine Nagel (Gourmand Coquin, Chypre Fatal, Oriental Brûlant, Boisé Torride, London), Delphine Jelk (La Petite Robe Noire, etc.), and Thierry Wasser (Iris Ganache, Quand Vient la Pluie, etc.).
Note the preponderance of women in this group, which goes against Guerlain’s patriarchal practice of having only men as perfumers. Sylvaine Delacourte has said that she would have liked to suggest a woman as Guerlain's next master perfumer, but because she wasn't allowed to, she chose Thierry Wasser. However, since Delphine Jelk was kept as Guerlain’s in-house perfumer, Delacourte’s wish has been partly granted.
Some images courtesy of guerlain.com
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